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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 30, 2015


CONTACT: Leah Mohr, deputy executive director, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201 or (605) 280-4327


PUC approves permit for Dakota Access Pipeline


PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission voted to approve with conditions a siting permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline project. PUC Chairman Chris Nelson and Acting Commissioner Rich Sattgast voted in favor, with Commissioner Gary Hanson dissenting, at an ad hoc commission meeting in Pierre on Nov. 30.


Prior to voting, Nelson introduced a list of conditions for the commission to discuss. Many of the conditions discussed at the meeting involved protecting land and landowners throughout the construction process and pipeline operation.


Nelson emphasized the importance of protecting South Dakotans throughout this process. “In granting the permit, the majority of the commission found that Dakota Access properly established their right under state law for the permit. To protect the rights of landowners more than 50 conditions were attached to the permit,” he stated. “If this pipeline is constructed, it is imperative and non-negotiable that construction and reclamation be conducted in a manner that allows farmers and ranchers impacted by the pipeline to very quickly get back to their business of producing food for the world in a manner uninhibited by the pipeline.”


Sattgast acknowledged the important role that South Dakota citizens play by participating in issues such as this. “This decision has included an extensive hearing process that included our citizens, as well as their local voices of government, and helped vet the many questions and concerns the people of South Dakota have wanted answered.  It is this process that was instrumental in formulating the many stringent conditions we’ve placed on the pipeline.  With respect to high growth area concerns, as well as others, great consideration was taken into account before any decision was made.”


During the meeting, the commissioners each addressed Dakota Access Pipeline representatives asking numerous questions about topics such as mitigating the impact on agricultural land during pipeline construction and operation, the impact the pipeline will have on South Dakota communities, and landowner relations.


Commissioner Hanson, having voted against the pipeline construction permit, reiterated his concerns regarding the path of the pipeline. “I am greatly disappointed that this pipeline will pass through the highest populated and economic growth area of our state and disrupt our citizens’ lives and businesses; especially since the applicant testified that it does not need to do so,” Commissioner Hanson stated. “Simply moving the route a few miles would have resolved this problem.”


The Dakota Access Pipeline route in South Dakota is estimated at 272 miles crossing Campbell, McPherson, Edmunds, Faulk, Spink, Beadle, Kingsbury, Miner, Lake, McCook, Minnehaha, Turner and Lincoln counties. The company plans to build one pump station seven miles southeast of Redfield in Spink County. The entire route is approximately 1,134 miles, from the Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to existing infrastructure in Illinois.


Dakota Access filed their construction application with the PUC on Dec. 15, 2014, starting a one-year period during which the commission was bound by state law to make its findings and issue a decision. In the months following receipt of the application, the PUC held four public input hearings along the pipeline route, reviewed thousands of pages of filings, received hundreds of written comments and listened to testimony at an eight-day evidentiary hearing. The public input hearings in Bowdle, Redfield, Iroquois and Sioux Falls collectively drew more than 580 attendees. The evidentiary hearing in Pierre in September and October included testimony and exhibits presented by Dakota Access, PUC staff and numerous intervenors.


In January, PUC Commissioner Kristie Fiegen disqualified herself from participating in the docket, citing a familial relationship with a landowner along the pipeline route. Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed State Treasurer Rich Sattgast to serve as acting PUC commissioner for the Dakota Access Pipeline docket.


The PUC granted intervenor status to 49 parties, allowing them full participation in the docket. Intervenors were able to file motions, request and respond to discovery, submit testimony and exhibits, and conduct cross examination at the evidentiary hearing. Intervenors included landowners, county and city governments, Native American tribes, water associations, grassroots membership organizations and other interested parties.


The process included a number of commission meetings at which various aspects of the docket were discussed and voted on by the three commissioners. They reviewed information about pipeline safety, groundwater, historic preservation, wildlife and habitats, geology, petroleum spills, property tax, federal pipeline regulations, economic impact and soil science along with other relevant subjects. Information was provided by Dakota Access, PUC staff, intervenors and their various experts and consultants, as well as in informal comments from the public.


A PUC staff team of two attorneys and two analysts reviewed data and evidence submitted by Dakota Access and intervenors, requested and analyzed opinions from experts, questioned parties and made recommendations to the commission.


The complete Dakota Access Pipeline construction permit docket is available on the PUC website at, Commission Actions, Commission Dockets, Hydrocarbon Pipeline Dockets, 2014 Hydrocarbon Pipeline Dockets. The docket is HP14-002 - In the Matter of the Application of Dakota Access, LLC for an Energy Facility Permit to Construct the Dakota Access Pipeline.